Monday, 6 August 2018

Life in the French hamlet

Weather news first: It is worth mentioning the weather as temperatures have been a regular 35c for the past week and its having a terrible impact on our beautiful flowers. Even with my deep well providing free water its impossible to keep the soil moist 24/7 but we try our best. The next two days are forecast to be around 37c and we know from past experience that this equates to 40c or more in sheltered spots. The cottage however remains cool thanks to traditional thick walls etc. 

Life in the French hamlet - Mechoui - August 2018

As we have discovered its virtually impossible to fully participate in what I can only describe as the 'real' rural France unless you fully embrace the French and the French lifestyle. After 40 plus years of visiting this area and more than 15 years having a house here we are now part and parcel of the community. We always participate and work to support events, we very much enjoy assisting with all the events that bring our local community together and we consider ourselves very lucky indeed to be part of and be accepted in our small hamlet of 34 houses and farms. The annual 'mechoui' is one event that brings everyone together, normally 80/90 attend the afternoon meal. Held in our next door neighbours farm barn it is basically a meal of barbecued sheep commencing at around midday followed by what we call a boules competition that lasts about 3 hours followed by an evening meal that finishes at about 02.00 am. In reality with preparation and clearing away it takes up the best part of three days for the core of helpers that run the event.
Breakfast for the workers on Saturday morning, that's me in the blue tea shirt with arms crossed

A pause during the setting up
The preparations begin on Wednesday when the two sheep are sent to the happy hunting grounds by the farmer. On the Friday at 07.00am I travel with a neighbour Claude to collect the tables from a store many miles away with my big trailer. Friday afternoon is spent clearing the barn of all the equipment, piles of wood and general farming rubbish that has built up over the year since the last mechoui. Saturday starts very early as the sheep need preparing for the barbecue, however a great core of hard workers appears and we soon have tables, benches, bunting and signs up and organised. The ladies and some men are also working at home preparing all manner of food for the afternoon and evening feasts.
The two sheep turning on the spit
12.00 noon Saturday: People arrive and drinks are available in quantity with gallons of special aperitif prepared and served to everyone.
Maureen on serving duty
Copious quantities of a specially prepared aperitif were served
Young and old arrive, home made games are set up to keep everyone occupied although talking is the main past time and boy the French can talk about anything and everything.
The early arrivals find a place at the table, over 80 people attend and its free if you live in the hamlet

Other residents made games

I invented a 'steady hand' tractor game for the event. My ex work colleague Tim will smile at this one! Only one player was successful.
Babies and children arrive, some only a few weeks old but bread and butter to these country girls.

Young and old attend
Leon, in flat cap is 94 and going strong.

The sheep is removed from the heat and prepared for serving
Preparing the sheep for serving takes some skill

After 4 hours of food and wine its time for the competition…...a serious game here in central France.

The semi finals of the boules competition, its 35c so they play in the shade of a big barn.
Last years champion, our next door neighbour was in fine form
Last years champion in full boules flight
If you are not a boules person, well other card games can fill the afternoon
A quiet game of cards

The three magnificent horses in the field observe the games from a distance, Maureen having a word of explanation?
Around 8pm the games are finished and its time to start and think about the evening meal!!!!

Maureen helps to prepare the tables for around 60 remaining people staying in the evening
The barbecue works hard to cook dozens of merguez and chipolata sausages plus of course a range of starters, main course accompaniments, cheese and desert. We left at 01.00hrs knowing that the core helpers would need to return on the Sunday to dismantle, tidy up and pack everything away.  

So that's it for 2018, another great mechoui and another great community event.

1 comment:

  1. They are great events BUT not for the faint hearted. All that eating and drinking and Boules...